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Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1, Violin Sonata

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
On recordings marking Dmitri Shostakovich's centenary year in 2006, it seems that the composer's First Violin Concerto has become the most popular pick among his major works. This release from Leila Josefowicz competes with very fine performances from two other young violinists, Sarah Chang and Daniel Hope, and while Hope earns special points for also recording Shostakovich's Second Violin Concerto -- an equally interesting piece, and much less often heard -- Josefowicz offers an electrifying vision of the work that can be counted second to none. Although nowhere advertised as such, the concerto was recorded in live performances, at Birmingham's Symphony Hall in January...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
On recordings marking Dmitri Shostakovich's centenary year in 2006, it seems that the composer's First Violin Concerto has become the most popular pick among his major works. This release from Leila Josefowicz competes with very fine performances from two other young violinists, Sarah Chang and Daniel Hope, and while Hope earns special points for also recording Shostakovich's Second Violin Concerto -- an equally interesting piece, and much less often heard -- Josefowicz offers an electrifying vision of the work that can be counted second to none. Although nowhere advertised as such, the concerto was recorded in live performances, at Birmingham's Symphony Hall in January 2006, which may partly account for its gripping quality. Josefowicz's powerfully introspective playing captures the work's spirit perfectly: She suffuses the solo line with steely intensity, differentiating drastically between the passages where pain is translated into lyrical melody and those where emotion bursts out in visceral harshness. Josefowicz's coupling is a very effective one: Shostakovich's Violin Sonata, a late work from 1969 contemporary with the death-haunted 14th Symphony that traffics in more austere versions of the concerto's intense mood-swings. Embracing the darkness of this challenging work, the soloist and her pianist, John Novacek, reveal it to be one of the composer's most tragic musical statements. Indeed, throughout this album the musicians show the kind of profound sympathy that makes for great performances -- and which always seems especially necessary when plumbing the depths of Shostakovich.
All Music Guide - James Leonard
It's not that violinist Leila Josefowicz hadn't released recordings prior to this one that pushed the boundaries of her art -- there was her hard-edged 2001 release of Prokofiev's violin concertos and her sharp-cornered 2003 release of John Adams' violin concerto -- but neither of those recordings could compare with this 2006 release of Shostakovich's "First Violin Concerto" coupled with his one and only "Violin Sonata." With this disc, Josefowicz seems intent to completely shed her youthful image as a baby-faced ingénue and taken on the mantle of a master violinist. She almost pulls it off. Accompanied by Sakari Oramo leading the City of Birmingham Symphony, Josefowicz turns in a hair-raising performance of the concerto, a performance of frightening intensity in the opening Nocturne, ferocious power in the following Scherzo, unbearable terror in the following Passacaglia, and overwhelming exuberance in the closing Burlesque. Accompanied by pianist John Novacek, however, Josefowicz turns in a fascinating if not wholly successful recording of the sonata. While one doubts neither her ability nor her dedication, Josefowicz is altogether too reserved in the face of Shostakovich's unrelievedly morbid music, too young, perhaps, to feel the fear of death that haunts the old atheist standing face to face with oblivion. Still, for a post-Soviet recording of the concerto, Josefowicz's is one of the better ones, especially in Warner Classics' deep and detailed sound.
All Music Guide - James Leonard
It’s not that violinist Leila Josefowicz hadn’t released recordings prior to this one that pushed the boundaries of her art – there was her hard-edged 2001 release of Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos and her sharp-cornered 2003 release of John Adams Violin Concerto – but neither of those recordings could compare with this 2006 release of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto coupled with his one and only Violin Sonata. With this disc, Josefowicz seems intent to shed completely her youthful image as a baby-faced ingénue and taken on the mantle of a master violinist.

She almost pulls it off. Accompanied by Sakari Oramo leading the City of Birmingham Symphony, Josefowicz turns in a hair-raising performance of the Concerto, a performance of frightening intensity in the opening Nocturne, ferocious power in the following Scherzo, unbearable terror in the following Passacaglia and overwhelming exuberance in the closing Burlesque. Accompanied by pianist John Novacek, however, Josefowicz turns in a fascinating if not wholly successful recording of the Sonata. While one doubts neither her ability nor her dedication, Josefowicz is altogether too reserved in the face of Shostakovich’s unrelievedly morbid music, too young, perhaps, to feel the fear of death that haunts the old atheist standing face to face with oblivion. Still, for a post-Soviet recording of the Concerto, Josefowicz’s is one of the better ones, especially with Warner Classics deep and detailed sound.

It’s not that violinist Leila Josefowicz hadn’t released recordings prior to this one that pushed the boundaries of her art – there was her hard-edged 2001 release of Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos and her sharp-cornered 2003 release of John Adams Violin Concerto – but neither of those recordings could compare with this 2006 release of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto coupled with his one and only Violin Sonata. With this disc, Josefowicz seems intent to shed completely her youthful image as a baby-faced ingénue and taken on the mantle of a master violinist.

She almost pulls it off. Accompanied by Sakari Oramo leading the City of Birmingham Symphony, Josefowicz turns in a hair-raising performance of the Concerto, a performance of frightening intensity in the opening Nocturne, ferocious power in the following Scherzo, unbearable terror in the following Passacaglia and overwhelming exuberance in the closing Burlesque. Accompanied by pianist John Novacek, however, Josefowicz turns in a fascinating if not wholly successful recording of the Sonata. While one doubts neither her ability nor her dedication, Josefowicz is altogether too reserved in the face of Shostakovich’s unrelievedly morbid music, too young, perhaps, to feel the fear of death that haunts the old atheist standing face to face with oblivion. Still, for a post-Soviet recording of the Concerto, Josefowicz’s is one of the better ones, especially with Warner Classics deep and detailed sound.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/20/2006
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • UPC: 825646299720
  • Catalog Number: 62997
  • Sales rank: 270,291

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–4 Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77 (published as Op. 99) - Sakari Oramo & Dmitry Shostakovich (37:57)
  2. 5–7 Sonata for violin & piano, Op. 134 - John Novacek & Dmitry Shostakovich (30:56)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Leila Josefowicz Primary Artist
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